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Rustic Pathways’ Aboriginal cultural immersion programs offer unparalleled opportunities for students and school groups to gain a deep understanding of Australia’s traditional owners. We have strong relationships with indigenous communities spread across the country. These afford us the ability to offer our students unique experiences not available to anyone else.
**Click on the star or place name for the area of the country you are interested in to view more information and a sample itinerary from that area.
Visiting central Australia with us is a truly unique experience! This part of Australia is rich in Indigenous history and culture. The diverse landscape acts as the perfect backdrop for a rare insight into Aboriginal culture. The programs we offer here are adventure based with a strong focus on Indigenous history and culture. Visit Uluru and feel the ancient wisdom of its rock formations. Traverse the 440 million year old Kings Canyon in the heart of the red centre. Connect with local Indigenous families and learn first-hand about the beauty of their culture.
Travelling through the NT with Rustic Pathways is an unparalleled experience. The Northern Territory is the perfect place for an Aboriginal Cultural Immersion. Its National Parks and ancient rock art sites will astound you. Rock art sites up to 20,000 years old will tell you fascinating stories of Aboriginal identity and connection to country. Learn from local elders about significant sacred places. Experience what life is like in remote outback Australia. Visit places such as Kakadu National Park, Litchfield National Park, Katherine, Darwin and many more.
The Kimberley is an incredibly special and sacred place. A visit to the Kimberley will leave you wanting more. One of the world’s last wilderness frontiers, you will be in awe of its remoteness. The East Kimberley is rich in Indigenous history, culture and stories. Spend time in a remote community, hunting, cooking and learning from Aborginal elders. Fall in love with the colourful characters of the Kimberley. The incredible landscape will take your breath away. Swim in ancient red rock gorges and marvel at the diversity of this land. Choose a program that visits many locations or opt for an on country experience in an Indigenous community. Places you may visit are; Kununurra, El Questro Wilderness Park, Purnululu National Park, Lake Argyle, Halls Creek, Wyndham.
The Pilbara is one of the largest regions in Western Australia. It is an extraordinary place that is sure to surprise and delight you. The Pilbara is known for its rugged gorges and beautiful National Parks. However, it’s the people and the Indigenous history and culture that will draw you in. The Martu people were the last Indigenous people to come out of the desert in the 1960’s. Hear their stories firsthand and learn what life was like then and now. Visit remote communities and be immersed into daily life. Understand what life is like for Indigenous people in this remote outback landscape. You could find yourself hunting traditionally during a Martu “on country” immersion program. Or perhaps exploring the stunning gorges of Karijini National Park and the exquisite Pilbara coastline.
The Dampier Peninsula is located in the north of Western Australia. It’s a place that few Australians get the chance to visit. This untouched landscape of pristine white sand beaches will take your breath away. It’s the perfect destination for a coastal adventure and to discover the Indigenous history and culture of the region. Bardi Jawi rangers will teach you all about their traditions and the importance of sustainably managing their coastal home. Visit Broome, Cape Leveque, One Arm Point, Kooljaman and Lombadina on an adventurous and culturally significant program.
The Martu are the traditional owners of a large part of central Western Australia. This area extends from the Great Sandy Desert in the north to around Wiluna in the south. Across this country, Martu share a common law, culture and language.
The Martu were some of the last of Australia’s Indigenous people to make contact with European Australians. Many migrated from their desert lands into neighbouring pastoral stations and missions in the 1950s and 1960s.
Like many Aboriginal people, Martu speak or understand numerous languages. For most Martu, even the children, English is a second or more language.In 2002, the Martu were awarded native title rights to over 13.6 million hectares of the Western Desert. This is referred to as the Martu native title determination. The Martu determination has enormous cultural significance for them. The lands are literally ‘alive’ with thousands of cultural sites (many of them water sources), song lines, stories, ceremonies, history and tangible materials such as occupation sites, objects and artefacts.
Elders have first-hand experience of traditional life and have extensive traditional ecological knowledge of their country. This provides an important and time-limited opportunity to preserve and transfer this knowledge before they pass away.
Rustic Pathways’ Indigenous immersion programs in the Pilbara incorporate incredible opportunities for interacting with, and learning from, the Martu people.
The land of the Miriwoong and Gajirrabeng people covers a wide area with Kununurra at the heart of Miriwoong country. The Miriwoong and Gajirrabeng people used to live in harmony with the land from Molly Spring in the west, most of the mighty Ord River including parts of Lake Argyle and way beyond the Northern Territory border across Keep River National Park and up to the coast.
Things have changed greatly since this time and many Miriwoong and Gajirrabeng people have moved into town or adjacent communities.
The Miriwoong and Gajirrabeng people are passionate about sharing and nurturing their language and culture. Together they work to build a strong, proud and respectful community. They wish for their people to have a sense of who they are and the land to which they belong.
Rustic Pathways has been working with the Miriwoong community for a number of years. Through our long-term partnerships with local organisations, Rustic Pathways supports the Miriwoong community through community service projects. These projects allow Rustic Pathways’ students to connect with community members and provide support to pre-existing, long-term projects. Students may be involved with environmental, educational or socio-economic projects that directly support the Miriwoong community.
We work with these communities on our programs in the East Kimberley.
Bardi Jawi country is bounded by sea on the eastern, northern and western sides of the Dampier Peninsula. The southern boundary is about 160kms north from Broome. Bardi Jawi people consider their country to include part of the sea, on which they depend. The main communities on Bardi country are Djarindjin, Lombadina and Ardyaloon (One Arm Point). The ocean has been pivotal in the lives of the Bardi people for many thousands of years. It is both a source of food and spiritual significance. Because of this, they are often called the “Saltwater People.” Evidence of their saltwater heritage can be found in the traditional artworks and pearl shell designs.
Interact with the Bardi Jawi people on our incredible Dampier Peninsula Tours.
Bush tucker or bush food refers to any food that is native to Australia. Bush tucker has been used for thousands of years as sustenance for Indigenous people. It also refers to any native flora or fauna that is used for other purposes such as medicine. Indigenous Australians have lived off of the natural environment for generations. Living this way has allowed them to consume a diet that is high in protein and micronutrients, but low in sugar.
On Rustic Pathways programs we like to give students a well rounded experience and encourage them to try new things. This includes bush tucker. It is also very important for students to understand the relationship that Indigenous communities have with their land. This relationship is extremely spiritual. Indigenous people have worked hard across generations to live sustainably and protect their land.
Rustic Pathways students may find themselves digging for delicious mud crabs with Bardi Jawi rangers on the Dampier Peninsula. They can learn about the medicinal powers of Kakadu plum from a Limilngan-Wulna in the Northern Territory. Students may choose to eat witchetty grub during a cultural presentation by the Luritja and Pertame people of Central Australia. These experiences and many more are available on our Aboriginal cultural immersion programs.
Read our blog on 6 Foods You May Try During An Aboriginal Bush Food Experience
Songlines are an extremely significant feature of Aboriginal culture. They have existed for thousands of years. Though incredibly important to Indigenous Australians, songlines are hard to explain to others. Songlines are used to explain many different concepts, from laws to astronomy. They were originally used as a form of communication for Indigenous people all across Australia. Like much of Indigenous culture, songlines are passed down from elder to elder across generations. Some songlines explain geographical features of the landscape and contain important place knowledge. Through the use of songlines, Indigenous Australians have retained extensive memories of the thousands of species of flora and fauna across Australia. Songlines are also used to trace the journeys of ancestral spirits and share creation stories.
On our Martu immersion programs in the Pilbara, students are lucky enough to be shown by elders how to use songlines to locate significant cultural sites. This is an incredibly rare, rich and spiritual experience.
Just like songlines, the Dreamtime is an important part of the Aboriginal spiritual belief system. The Dreamtime refers to the Aboriginal belief that the earth was created by their ancestors at the beginning of time. They believe that the ancestral spirits created the land, the rivers, the water holes, the plants and the animals. It is also believed that the spirits provided Aboriginal people with their dreaming and their totems. Dreamtime is seen as never ending. It is the foundation of all Aboriginal culture and religion. During the Dreamtime the ancestors also created men and women, their specific rituals and customs. Just like songlines, the dreamtime may be a difficult concept for non-Indigenous people to comprehend. However, the dreaming is extremely important to Aboriginal people and encompasses their very being. Hear dreamtime stories from elders and learn more about Indigenous spirituality on our on country experience in the Kimberley.
Aboriginal artwork dates back to between 40 and 60,000 years ago. At this time, Aboriginal people used ochers to paint on rocks. Art is an incredibly important part of Indigenous culture and storytelling. Indigenous languages are not written, therefore many of their customs and stories have been passed down through art. Aboriginal people use iconography and symbols throughout their artwork to convey their stories and knowledge. As well as rock art painting, Aboriginal artists paint traditional articles as well as their own bodies for ceremonial purposes. The stories that Aboriginal artists paint are of particular importance. The artist must have permission to paint certain stories. Aborginal people inherit stories that are passed down generationally as part of certain kin groups. An Aboriginal artist is not permitted to paint a story that does not belong to him/her through his/her family line. Dreamtime creation stories are one of the most common themes that are seen in Aboriginal artwork.
At Rustic Pathways, we believe that teaching students about Aboriginal art is essential. Without a written language, Aborignal art is vital in the preservation of Aboriginal culture. All of our Aboriginal Cultural Immersion programs have an art component. On all programs, we visit local Indigenous art galleries and co-ops to support artists and learn their stories. On our programs, students have the opportunity to meet with Aboriginal artists and sit with them as they create.
Want to set up an Aboriginal cultural immersion program? Contact us now to get the ball rolling!